Nüshu, women’s secret language

Published in Causette in July 2020.

Until 2004, in the Chinese district of Jiangyong, a rather peculiar writing system existed. The nüshu – that is its name – had indeed a particularity: it was learned and used only by women in this area of the north-west of Hong Kong. Letters of friendship, at the time of the marriage… the multiple uses disappeared with the last holder of the tradition, Yang Huanyi.

Well, not so much, since today, the Chinese government has found another use for it, commercial this time. And, let’s say it right away, the tradition has given way to commodification.

Cover picture: Cathy Silber.